Campaigners at the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary are calling for road safety measures due to concerns that visitors could fall victim to fast drivers on a U road single-track lane.

Rosie Nelson, Communications Manager at the sanctuary, has started an online petition, which has seen over 1,000 people sign it. The sanctuary, which is between Caehopkin and Abercraf in the south of Powys, is split into two sides, with "a 60mph road" running through the middle, but Rosie said that speeding is now 'worse than it has ever been'.

"The road is treated like a drag strip," Rosie says. "Just last year there was a major accident on the main road near the sanctuary. Powys Council directed all traffic, no matter the size, through the sanctuary. This was nearly 900 vehicles up and down the lane. We had 2 members of our staff in hi-vis. I even got bumped with the wing mirror of an angry driver. It is just a matter of time before something catastrophic happens. We are responsible for our visitors. We are not responsible for speeding through traffic."

The sanctuary is a popular tourist attraction, with visitors travelling from all over the country. Rosie, and the owners of the sanctuary Jan and Graham, are concerned that an accident is waiting to happen. "As the sanctuary is split into two sides, it means that visitors have to cross the road. We have up to 40,000 visitors every year many of which are children. On a bank holiday, we could have up to 700 visitors and because of the number of people and cars, this means that we would put a member of staff, in hi-vis, in the car park, guiding people where to park and slowing traffic going through."

It's not the first time a petition has been made to garner support for road safety measures. Jan and Graham have petitioned for road safety since the sanctuary opened over 25 years ago. Rosie has even hosted meetings with GoSafe, Wales's Road Casualty Reduction Partnership, Ystradgynlais Police, Iain McIntosh Chief of Staff to Fay Jones, and has written to Powys County Council. Rosie has also taken to uploading CCTV & ANPR footage to GoSafe & Powys Police, as well as taking to Twitter.

But all of Rosie's attempts have been met in vain. Speed wires were put on the road but Powys Council Traffic Officers concluded that 'there is no speeding issue and no reason to take any further action'. Rosie said: "This is not accurate when vehicles purposely slow down to go over the wires." Meanwhile, Rosie has sent emails to the area traffic engineer south at Powys County Council but says they have 'point blank refused' to attend meetings.

However, Rosie does say she has the full support of Fay Jones MP, GoSafe and Ystradgynlais Police, while the sanctuary claims that Powys County Council should 'act now' and not 'dismiss' the issue.

A spokesperson for the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary said: “We urge Powys Council to act now. Our concerns over road safety shouldn’t be dismissed or ignored. We have been campaigning and asking for help regarding road safety for more than 25 years but now the 60mph single-track lane to the sanctuary is busier than ever. Something needs to be done ASAP.

"Please support us in our aim to have safety measures installed and sign our petition. We hope Lee Waters MS and Powys County Council listen and agree to reconsider this issue, as we want our visitors and the people who use the lane to walk dogs to ultimately feel safe."

Fay Jones, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: “As a staunch supporter and advocate for community safety, I am deeply concerned about the ongoing safety issues surrounding the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary at Caehopkin, Abercrave, Powys. After reviewing the disturbing video footage and photographs depicting the perilous conditions faced by visitors, especially children, near the sanctuary's roadway, my disappointment in the inaction of both Lee Waters MS and Powys County Council cannot be overstated.

"The evidence presented, highlighting the danger posed by fast-moving vehicles in close proximity to the sanctuary, is alarming. It is disheartening to note that despite repeated attempts to address these concerns through meetings and correspondence, there has been a conspicuous lack of response or meaningful engagement from the Welsh Government, and the Cabinet Member and Area Traffic Engineer at Powys County Council. The refusal to attend crucial meetings to discuss these safety issues further exacerbates the situation.

"The Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary has taken a commendable step by initiating a petition on 38Degrees, which has garnered the support of over 1,000 individuals. This significant public backing underscores the community's concern and the urgency of the matter.

"I urge both the Welsh Government and Powys County Council to acknowledge the gravity of this situation and engage in constructive dialogue. It is imperative that they come to the table, listen to the voices of the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary, the concerned signatories of the petition, and collaborate to find a viable solution. The introduction of necessary speed limits and safety measures is not just a request; it is a dire need to ensure the well-being of all visitors to the sanctuary.

"We owe it to our community and to the visitors of the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary to prioritise their safety. The current situation is untenable and demands immediate attention. I implore Lee Waters MS and the officials at Powys County Council to treat this matter with the seriousness it deserves and act swiftly to rectify these hazardous conditions.

"Together, let us work towards creating a safer environment for all.”

The road that leads to the sanctuary
The road that leads to the sanctuary (Rosie Nelson)

A spokesperson for Powys County Council said: “Heol y Gwydde is a narrow, single-track road near Caehopkin, Abercrave.

“There have been no recorded collisions on Heol y Gwydde in 24 years of recorded data on The current speed limit for this unclassified road is 30mph. There are speed limit signs at each end of the road. Additional 30mph repeater signs are scheduled to be erected during 2024.

“The most recent speed tests show that vehicles travel at an average of 13.4mph past the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary. There is currently no need for traffic calming measures on Heol y Gwydde.”

Lee Waters MS has been approached for comment.